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ENGLISH…is it ONE or are there MORE?

This is quite a challenge, even for an English teacher, to think of 7 English lessons that could fit into a blog and also help the readers improve their skills. I don’t really trust those books entitled “Learn English in 10 Lessons” or “Become a proficient speaker in less than a month”. Learning takes time, especially when it comes to learning a foreign language.

Anyway, I should consider myself lucky because English has a real advantage: we are being bombarded, on a daily basis, with this language in the form of music, movies, Internet pages, software programmes and, thus, with almost no effort at all, we become familiar with the language, begin to understand it and, if it comes to it and if we’re brave enough, we start even speaking it.

The focus of these lessons is to make you, the readers, become aware of how much English you really know, to boost your confidence and encourage you to use it more and more. To put it in a nutshell: ENGLISH IS FUN, DON’T BE AFRAID OF IT!

But, is ENGLISH just ONE, or are there more “ENGLISHES” 😀 in the world?

This is the topic of today’s lesson: VARIETIES OF ENGLISH.

The English language is one of the few ones that are spoken in a great number of countries. In the case of English, those countries tend to be quite distant from one another. Some of them have enjoyed long times of independent development, as the United States, others saw their national language being replaced by English because of the lack of independent development, as e.g. Ireland. It may not be confusing that the way the language of England is used nowadays in all those different countries is not the same as in the mother country, whose Standard is taught in most countries, where English functions as a second language in school. Some differences may come from speech habits that got out of fashion in England, but remained in those regions far from the cultural centre of London. Others can be based on the substratum of the former language of the country.

Since this is not an academic survey I won’t bore you with uninteresting linguistic facts but I’ll try to stick to the fun part of these various types of English.

1. British English, Standard English, or RP (Received Pronunciation), or the language of the Queen

Received Pronunciation is all about jaw muscle power and tongue control. The speaker must contort his or, in the Queen’s case, her mouth into un-natural positions so that the required vowel sounds can be produced.

This type of English is nowadays considered old, stuffy and even snobbish and most English speakers (from our country at least) have difficulties in understanding the spoken part being so much used to the American accent from movies.

Let’s see how many of you understand what this girl says. 😀

2. American English, or the type of English that is most familiar to us because of the movies and which is generally considered a standard with English speakers – usually young people – in our country.

There are certain differences between British English and American English first of all in terms of accent but also when it comes to grammar and vocabulary. This divergence between the two once caused George Bernard Shaw to say that the United States and United Kingdom are „two countries divided by a common language”; a similar comment is ascribed to Winston Churchill. Likewise, Oscar Wilde wrote, „We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language”.

Probably the major differences between British and American English lies in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties for example:

Mean: (American English – angry, bad humored, British English – not generous, tight fisted)

Rubber: (American English – condom, British English – tool used to erase pencil markings)

There are many more examples (too many for me to list here). If there is a difference in usage, your dictionary will note the different meanings in its definition of the term. Many vocabulary items are also used in one form and not in the other. One of the best examples of this is the terminology used for automobiles.

  • American English – hood          British English – bonnet
  • American English – trunk          British English – boot
  • American English – truck          British English – lorry

And this is just the beginning :D. I told you it was going to be fun and…confusing sometimes… It will get more confusing when I deal with Scottish and Irish English – my favourites. They will come as a surprise, a bonus in the following days. Until then, have fun and enjoy speaking any variety of English!


2 răspunsuri

  1. Wow… I got caught in the reading and I was speachless for some time… I`m more than impressed…. Thank you for this post… I LOVEd YOU wrote it! More than I ever expected! Wonderful surprise from a wonderfull girl… Many kisess…. I can hardly wait the next days…

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